Leeds student’s poetry breathes new life into the stories of historical figures

Edwin Stockdale.
Edwin Stockdale.
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A Leeds student has used the power of poetry to give modern readers a compelling insight into the life and violent death of Lady Margaret Pole.

Edwin Stockdale’s new collection of verse – which has just been published in pamphlet form – includes a long sequence of poems about the one-time Countess of Salisbury, who was executed in 1541 on the orders of Henry VIII.

But Lady Margaret is not the only notable figure from the past to feature in the pieces penned by Edwin, who is studying for a PhD in creative writing at Leeds Trinity University.

The new collection also includes poems about the 19th century novelist Mary Shelley and Lady Jane Grey, England’s so-called Nine Days Queen.

And Edwin’s work has been given a suitably-evocative seal of approval by award-winning poet Dr Amina Alyal, a senior lecturer in creative writing at Leeds Trinity.

She said: “Chilled as champagne and vivid as jewels, these poems evoke the lives of historical women meditatively, probing the brutality, the isolation and the sheer lived immediacy of their experiences.

“The glimpses are concrete, taut and musical, the voice restrained and sharply observant.”

Speaking about the new collection, Edwin said: “I chose this topic because I found Lady Margaret Pole a fascinating figure.

“She was one of only two women in the 16th century who was made a countess in her own right.

“Her life was one of violence and shifting fortunes. What I most enjoyed writing about was filling in the gaps of her story to access the small, intimate, personal moments of history.”

Edwin researched the sequence of poems about Lady Margaret – daughter of George, Duke of Clarence, the brother of kings Edward IV and Richard III – while studying for a Masters in creative writing at the University of Birmingham.

“The new pamphlet, entitled The Glower of the Sun, is available to purchase for £6 from independent publisher Red Squirrel Press.